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Stage 14 Preview/Open Thread

Not sure what sort of previews there are out there, dozens and dozens no doubt. Here's what you need to know:

  • Côte de Saint-Sarraille: 9.0 km @ 5.3 % (2nd Cat.)
  • Port de Pailhères: 16.8 km @ 7.2 % (hors catégorie)
  • Plateau de Beille: 15.9 km @ 7.9 % (hors catégorie)

Gott im himmel! That's a lotta steep, steep climbing. It will be interesting to see if the Astanas start the fireworks on the Port de Pailhères, or if they do the conventional thing and wait. I suspect the former. Vino is going for broke now, with nothing to lose, since he's not going to gain 5'+ in the last time trial. And if he blows himself up, he's scary enough to draw out the competition in the process and blow them up too.

Locked to his wheel should be Yaroslav Popovych. Yaro-pop has the Mountains jersey squarely in his sights, and while Johan might not let him go for KOM points at the expense of thier dual challengers, having Popovych up the road means Discovery can follow wheels back in the main flotilla. So let him go off in search of both team and individual objectives. Soler dropped gobs of time today, so he may be better positioned to chase the KOM, but anyway the battle should be joined right away tomorrow.

Evans will want to stick near Contador and Kloden, and on this kind of surface he may not be able to attack. Presumably those guys and Leipheimer will all be glued to the Chicken. If they all hang together until the Plateau de Beille, then the race will play out more or less like an uphill time trial, where guys will come over the line ordered by pure strength. As for who wins? Damn... I suppose whoever saved a few matches in today's ride. Or a Basque: Astarloza won't be given any room but Mayo might.